Thursday, January 24, 2008

The World from His Window

From the way he sleeps naked to the way he interacts with the world around him, Henry Perowne lives according a deluded sense of grander. It is not that his life is any more or less trivial than that of everyone else. Rather, his life fails to have any meaning because he fails to properly look for it. He cannot appreciate his own or other’s situation because he is too caught up with personas instead of people.

Henry is easily critical of others as he looks into the square below his window. Instead of seeing a distraught girl and a compassionate boy in an intensely emotional interplay, he sees addicts bickering over “a missed score” (58). Judgmentally Henry proclaims, “People often drift into the square to act out their dramas…Passions need room, the attentive spaciousness of a theater” (58-59). But people are far more complex than actors on a stage. Henry is incapable of seeing the humanity in others because of the apathetic role he plays in his own life, much of which takes place the poignantly named surgical “theater”.

Henry values the fact that he is a proud father and an accomplished surgeon. Yet, his last meaningful connection with his son was when he taught Theo his first three notes; and with his daughter, he acts more like a child and she like the parent. Meanwhile at work, his outlook is that “there has to be more to life than merely saving lives” (28). To him, his children are trophies to be had and his patients are bodies on which to be operated.

1 comment:

Erin Sells said...

These are harsh indictments of Henry, but not necessarily undeserved! Your play on the idea of the "operating theater" is a very clever detail to note. I think we definitely do see Henry's 'god-complex' inflating rapidly every time he enters the hospital.